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What to Expect with Heart Scan

What is a CT scan?




A computed tomography (or CT) scan is a simple, quick and safe imaging procedure commonly used for diagnosis of a variety of conditions. Often called a CAT scan, this technology involves a combination of x-rays and computers and is completely non-invasive. The CT obtains two-dimensional images of internal organs and, using a computer, these images can be presented as three-dimensional images for in-depth clinical examination and evaluation.

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about this exam – and how it relates to heart care. Please follow up with your doctor if you have any specific questions about your exam or your personal health. For more information, call 1-800-801-8882.

What are the benefits to having this test?

This imaging technology allows you to learn things about your heart health that you could not have without an invasive procedure like a catheterization. This means, you can get a very accurate view of your heart and determine your personal risk for heart disease.

Are IVs/medications involved?

When you arrive for your exam, you will begin the process in the Cardiac Catheterization Lab recovery area where you will change into a gown and have your heart rate monitored (to make sure it is less than 65 beats per minute). A small-caliber IV will be started on you to administer the contrast IV fluid for the CT or any other medications, if necessary.

What does a CT scan involve?

A CT scan technologist will escort you into the CT scanning room in our Radiology Department, where you’ll see a table and a large, doughnut-shaped device called a gantry. The technologist will have you lie down on the padded table and make sure that you are comfortable. You’ll be asked to lie very still during the scan and hold your breath for a brief time to minimize any body movement. Via a small IV you will receive an injection of IV fluid contrast to outline the coronary arteries and structures so the physicians can better view your heart and coronary system.

During the scan, you may hear a humming noise but you will not feel anything unusual. You may feel the table move while images are being taken at certain locations of your body. The technologist will be monitoring you during the entire exam through a window and can communicate with you via an intercom.

How long will the CT scan take?

The actual scan portion of the exam will take just a few seconds.

What does 64-slice mean?

The CT scanner, in a fraction of a second, produces 64 images per rotation, a speed at which an accurate scan of your heart may be performed in approximately 5 seconds. This means new diagnostic power in diagnosing patients with chest pain and ruling out blockages. This CT scanner offers the ability to provide a compressive view of the coronary arteries in 5 heartbeats.

What happens after the CT scan?

You will be taken back to the Cardiac Cath Lab to dress, and you will be free to go. The cardiologist will prepare a report of your scan and send it to your primary care doctor within 24 hours. You will need to follow up with your primary care doctor for the results.

Is a CT scan safe?

A CT scan is a safe and effective procedure. Nearly 50 million CTs are performed in the US each year. The Food and Drug Administration has approved CT. Additionally the GE Lightspeed CT scanner, used at St. John Hospital, has been designed with dose reduction features that minimize each patient’s exposure to radiation.

How much does it cost and does insurance cover it?

The cost of the test is $700. As a screening or preventive test, it is currently not covered by insurance, but may be in the future. You may want to check with your insurance provider for more information.

How do I make an appointment?

You will need a physician referral to have this scan performed. Please discuss the 64-slice CT scan with your doctor to determine if it is right for you.

Once you have your doctor’s order for the test, you can call 1 (800) 801-8882 Monday - Friday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. to make your appointment.


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